Damijan Štefanc

This autumn issue of the Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies introduces
seven thematically diverse articles and three reviews of recently published
scholarly and specialist publications.

We continue to publish empirical research on the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic
on the quality and accessibility of education. In this issue, Mojca Peček
and Marcela Batistič Zorec write on this topic, exploring children’s return to
preschools after lockdown due to the Covid-19 epidemic. They inquire about how
preschool children felt when they returned to preschool after the 13- to 15-week
closure of preschools, and whether preschool teachers had adapted their working
methods to children’s challenges and needs. The findings show that for most children
the reopening of preschools was not stressful, that most children were happy
about it and that preschool is an important part of children’s lives. However, the
authors note on some methodological limitations of the study: it was not carried
out on a representative sample and it does not give a clear insight into how the
children who are more vulnerable or whose parents have experienced more stress
experienced the lockdown.

The following paper addresses higher education and critically examines the
discourse of competences embedded in it. Primož Turk argues that competences
in higher education can be understood better if placed in the broader context of
educational objectives. The author points out some contradictions in the use of
the concept of competence in relation to the professed core objectives of higher
education. One such example is the objective of higher education to educate young
people for active citizenship. He questions whether higher education, which has
adopted a distinctly passive stance towards the business world, can educate for
active citizenship, at least when we consider active citizenship competences in
the context of national higher education programmes. He also highlights the absence
of the self-sufficiency of education. Competences, as understood today, are
primarily something applicable, meant to solve concrete practical problems. What
was once conceived as the acquisition of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, for the
sheer beauty of understanding, of knowing, of being able to think, without regard
to usefulness – is now, writes Turk, completely absent.

The next article, by Barbara Kopačin, Mirna Marić, Branko Radić,
Urianni Merlin and Eda Birsa, discusses the use of flexible strategies in art
subjects in distance education in higher education. The qualitative study conducted
in Slovenia and Croatia found that higher education teachers used both
synchronous and asynchronous modes of study, relying on various hardware and
software solutions. Various difficulties were encountered during the planning and
implementation of the study process in the field of the arts, especially in practical
artistic presentations and assignments, due to ICT limitations. In addition, difficulties
emerged due to different ICT competences, which resulted in a poor use of
different web-based systems.

The last Slovenian-language contribution to this issue is practice-based,
too: Patricija Bajec and Violeta Jurkovič present the use, advantages and
challenges of live case studies in the teaching of logistics and transport. As the
authors write, the labour market expects graduates to be able to identify and
solve problems and to master soft skills, which has led educational institutions
to move towards a more experiential pedagogy. Their qualitative research study
aimed to provide an in-depth insight into the use, benefits and challenges of live
case studies in teaching transport and logistics to teachers. They conclude that
live case studies have a motivating effect on teachers and enhance their creativity.
However, challenges remain, particularly with regard to collaboration with external
stakeholders, as well as to the lack of time or the absence of live case studies.

The English-language section of the journal features three contributions
from authors from Kyrgyzstan, Czechia and Croatia. Kishimjan Eshenkulova
and Kadiyan Boobekova have contributed an interesting article on educational
metaphors used by students in Kyrgyzstan to describe their perceptions of schools.
The participating students in this study supplied more than 170 metaphors about
schools, including more than 100 with a positive connotation. The survey shows
that some students perceive school as a peaceful and pleasant place and use positive
words to describe it, while others use a variety of negative metaphors such as
prison, criminal world, factory, hospital, laboratory and barn to describe school.

In her article, Czech author Magdalena Hanková discusses the opinions of
students with physical disabilities on teachers’ pedagogical approaches in classroom.
She notes that while teachers are generally seen as the primary actors guiding
the adaptation of students with physical disabilities to mainstream secondary
school settings, less is known about these students’ perceptions of their educators’
actual teaching practice. She finds that secondary school students with physical
disabilities initially perceived their teachers’ pedagogical approach as too traditional,
with inexperienced and long-term practising educators showing lower levels
of acceptance of their students’ educational needs.

The last English-language text is about experiential learning in relation to the
development of entrepreneurial competence. Daliborka Luketić and Valerija
Šinko analyse the benefits of experiential learning for learning entrepreneurship
as one of key competences. The paper presents, among other things, the results
of a study on a specific educational model for entrepreneurship implemented in
Croatia. The analysis and interpretation of the obtained results indicate that the
concepts of experiential learning and teaching have been implemented through
very heterogeneous didactic forms and methods of working with students.

Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies is
published with support of Slovenian Research Agency.